Django Girls PDX: Code Like a Girl

I learned an interesting fact about myself this weekend – I code like a girl.

A few months ago, I stumbled across a post on Reddit (despite what you may have heard, Reddit has a ton of wonderful people and useful communities). The post mentioned that applications were open for a workshop meant to teach women with no prior programming experience how to code using Python and Django. The workshop was being offered through Django Girls, a global movement to introduce more women to the programming field. Thanks to Kevin, I had a vague idea of what programming entails and what Python and Django are. I’d never really messed around with programming myself.  I have a good grasp on HTML/CSS and how those work, and had looked over some of the things Kevin had coded while he worked through some of his Python books.

I applied for the PDX workshop, hoping that it would provide me with new skills to better market myself in my job search. As a public relations professional, I thought it would be neat if I could say “not only can I craft the content for your website, I can code it for you too.” Excitingly, a month later, I received an email telling me I’d been accepted to the workshop.

As the date approached, I became a little nervous that I was going to be in over my head. After all, I went the liberal arts route because my brain isn’t mathematically oriented, and some of the lines of code Kevin has shown me looked like literal Latin to me. I was worried I wasn’t going to keep up with the rest of the group.

Now, go to nataliejhansen.pythonanywhere.com.

blog test

See that blog with the nonsensical posts on it? I put that there. Not only did I code the web page, I coded the blog app within it and created the server  it’s still running on.

And I understood (mostly) what I did to achieve that.

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Tuesday Tidbits: Literary Links

Welcome back to Tuesday Tidbits!

As is apparent from my frequent book reviews and reading lists on Intrusions of Beauty, I am an avid reader. My parents helped cultivate this from an early age, and reading has expanded my world, mind, and soul. It has helped turn me into a lifelong learner and introduced me to new and challenging ideas. If the only thing I accomplish in my life is turning a few people into readers, I will be fulfilled.

This week’s Tuesday Tidbits is focused on book news, products and discussion. I’d love to hear what you’re reading, and share what I’m reading with you!

Tuesday Tidbits: Literary Links

If you haven’t set up an account already, I HIGHLY recommend starting a Goodreads account! It’s very helpful to track what you’re reading, start a reading challenge, and get recommendations for new books based on what you’ve liked in the past.

BookRiot, an internet hub for all things books, recently posted this fascinating comparison of US vs. UK editions of book covers.

go set a watchman

Photo courtesy of BookRiot.

Jeff Kinney, the author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, recently opened a bookstore. It saddens me to see more bookstores closing, so I am completely on board with a trend of authors opening their own stores! You can take a look around the store in this video at the New York Times.

John Green, author of many YA books like The Fault in Our Stars, has built a massive internet following over the years. This longer read from The New Yorker looks at how that came to be.

The Millions has a list of the most anticipated books releasing in the second half of 2015. There’s several on here I have definitely added to my list, in particular Not on Fire, But Burning by Greg Hrbek. It comes out in September, so I’ll be looking for it at my local library.

not on fire but burning

Have a fantastic, book-filled week!

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cannon beach oregon

To Do List | Tourist-y Portland Top 5

After 5 months of settling into our new city, we are more than ready for some visitors to show around!

In just under two weeks, my biological and adopted sisters (Chelsea and Chelsea, or Chelsea Squared) will be coming to visit. Chelsea #2 helped us move back in February, but exhaustion and limited time didn’t leave much room for exploring together. The girls will be here for just under a week. A few days after they arrive, we will be joined by my dad and step-mom. After the long weekend, we will be off to Las Vegas for nearly another week. My current state of unemployment comes in handy here, as it leaves ample time for showing guests around town and hopping on a plane shortly after.

I have tons of things to do, see and eat on our agenda. The list, of course, includes some “tourist-y” items. When I lived in Vegas, I had a handful of tourist hot spots that I took guests, even when I’d lived there long enough to be jaded by cliches myself. With Portland, we’re still very new and exploring ourselves. Some of the to-dos are things we’ve seen before, and some we’ve saved specifically to experience with our visitors.

rose photo

Also mildly excited to show off our revamp of our itty bitty back yard to someone!

TO DO LIST: PORTLAND TOURIST SPOTS

Food | I honestly could make a full length list of all the food venues we will be visiting! Portland is becoming a major foodie destination. I have some tried and true spots we’ll be sharing with our guests, including Salt & Straw, Voodoo Doughnut, Kyra’s Bakeshop, Maki Sushi and Pastini Pastaria. We will all be trying out Mac! Mac and Cheesery together for the first time, and I’m hoping to maybe try some of the food carts downtown as well.

Powell’s City of Books | Any excuse I can find to head over to Powell’s, I will take! My little sister, Chelsea #1, is about to start her master’s degree in creative writing. I’m planning to find the shelf that her book will some day sit on and take her picture there.

International Rose Test Garden | Kevin and I visited this amazing place a few weeks ago. The trip was a bit rushed thanks to some minor dehydration, and I would love to go back and take another trip through. And guests to the Rose City can’t leave without seeing some roses!

Drinks at Departure | I’ve heard a lot about this hot spot with a view at the Nines Hotel downtown. What better time to find a new favorite drink than with visiting friends and family?

Oregon Coast | With the ocean so close to Portland, there’s no excuse not to experience your feet in the sand. I’m not sure whether we will be heading to Tillamook or Cannon Beach yet. Tillamook also has the Tillamook Cheese Factory, and Cannon Beach is a cozy, fun little beach town.

I better take advantage of the house cleaning time I have now!

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Book Review | Social Media for Social Good – Heather Mansfield

nonprofit social mediaSocial Media for Social Good by Heather Mansfield

Book Finished: May 10th, 2015

Rating: 5/5


Though we’ve never met or even spoken, Heather Mansfield is an old friend of mine.

While putting together my literature review for my thesis in the fall of 2013, I had difficulty finding books that focused on research related to nonprofits and social media. My adviser suggested I look into “best practices” books and how-to guides instead. There were only a few titles available, and one that was repeatedly recommended as “the” guide for nonprofits – Social Media for Social Good by Heather Mansfield.

Over the next 5 months, I skimmed through, read and re-read, stared at, and fell asleep on top of this book more times than I can remember. It helped shape my eventual list of best practices that I put together from my research.

Now that my thesis has been done and defended for some time, I thought it would be interesting to go back and read through Mansfield’s work again, this time in the eyes of a professional rather than a student.

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portland oregon

A Bed of Beauty and Thorns – Our Backyard Roses

When we moved here in February, one of the first things we noticed (after the fact that we have the tiniest backyard in the world) was that there were several rose bushes in our yard space. And by bushes I mean ten foot trees.

They were dormant back in February, but very obviously had not been cared properly in some time. We later found out from one of our neighbors that the bushes probably hadn’t been pruned in about 3 years.

Rose bushes are hearty, invasive plants that grow without much care, and will also grow as tall as you let them. When they began to bloom in April, the weight caused them to tip over. We were soon unable to maneuver the back yard thanks to the long, reaching arms of the bushes. Once the previously small green weeds surrounding them began to explode everywhere, we decided set aside a Saturday for yard work.

About $100 and 10 hours of fun with spiders, thorns, and snakes later, we’d removed the weeds, trimmed the bushes, removed dead shrubs, laid river rock, and planted some lilies. The yard is much more usable now, and the rose bushes were trimmed pretty drastically.

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Book Review | Beautiful Wreck – Larissa Brown

viking romanceBeautiful Wreck by Larissa Brown

Book Finished: July 1st, 2015

Rating: 4/5


If you glance at my growing library, you won’t find too many romance novels nestled there.

Sure, a lot of the fantasy and YA fiction I read features romance; but it’s not often the central axis of the stories I choose. I also don’t prefer romantic “chick-flicks” at the movies – I tend to get bored.

This book had enough of the fantasy and mystery I enjoy that found myself thoroughly wrapped up in Ginn’s drama. And why aren’t we featuring Vikings more often in literature and movies right now? I am convinced this is a severe oversight.

I picked up this book for free at my local library as a gift for signing up for their summer reading program. The synopsis on the back caught my eye, featuring Vikings, virtual reality, and time travel.  I was pleased to find when I got home that it’s a signed edition. A nice bonus!

The book only briefly introduces the main character and her world. Jen is a young, lonely developer in futuristic Iceland working for a company centered on realistic virtual environments. People here are so far removed from the past that they’ve essentially adopted full-time cosplay in their daily lives. Which might actually be kind of fun. Jen doesn’t have any true friends or relationships, but does seem to like her work developing the dialogue and voices for Viking characters in her virtual reality. Continue reading